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The Scenic Flight to Stewart Island

The Scenic Flight to Stewart Island

If you’re considering a trip to Stewart Island you have two main ways to get there. You can either catch the ferry, which takes an hour and takes you across the notoriously choppy Foveaux Straight, or opt for a flight. What’s a flight to Stewart Island like? It’s amazing (and very short). Keep reading for all the details!

Flying to Stewart Island

Our flight to Stewart Island from Invercargill airport was a unique experience. The journey only takes about 20 minutes and the plane we travelled on was tiny. I think it seated 8 people, and I was right up front by the pilot. It was a grey day so the photos didn’t turn out great, but it was a fun flight all the same.

The views start of rural before reaching the coastline near Bluff. From there it’s across Foveaux Straight, with Stewart Island, AKA Rakiura, looming in the distance. There’s a lot to see for such a short flight, and luckily the weather was a lot better on the return journey.

Flying Back to Invercargill

Our trip back to the mainland was a lot more photogenic. We took the last flight home, which at the start of winter was around 5 pm. It was a beautiful cloudless day, and the golden hour light illuminated the island and made for an exciting trip home. It was nice to fly over some of the coastline we’d walked along in the days previous, and with that perfect light and slowly fading sun, it really was the perfect end to our Stewart Island trip.

The plane on the way back was slightly bigger (maybe 10 – 12 seats) and not everyone got a view. It would have been very frustrating not to have one with such great conditions, but I guess we were lucky.

What About the Ferry?

If you want to save a bit of cash, or you hate flying in tiny planes, the ferry is a good option. I travelled there this way twice when I was a kid – I can’t remember how rough it was but it can get pretty bad from what I’ve heard. It only takes an hour or so though and on a nice day it’d be a good way to do it.

The Details

There’s only one company doing the Invercargill to Stewart Island route (Stewart Island Flights), and it’s in service year round. We travelled in winter and there were multiple daily flights. It cost us $225 each return, while the ferry would set you back around $150 return. You get dropped off at a small runway and then transported to town (which is included in the price).

Stewart Island Travel

We spent just under a week on Stewart Island recently and tried to see as much as we could. Highlights include Observation Rock (surely the best viewpoint on the island), Bathing Beach, our Rakiura Track day walk and a trip to Ulva Island. I’ll be writing heaps more posts about Stewart Island in the future, so stay tuned!

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our South Island travel guide!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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